Ready for regionals

This time of year, experience can mean a lot for teams hoping to make a deep playoff run.

In that case, the Alcona boys basketball team might have a little bit of an extra boost tonight as the Tigers face Maple City Glen Lake at 7 p.m. in a Class C regional semifinal game at Traverse City West.

Mio and Hillman will also be in action tonight. Mio faces Beal City at 7:30 p.m. in a Class D regional semifinal at Saginaw Heritage and Hillman faces Pellston at 5:30 p.m. in a Class D regional semifinal in Pellston.

Alcona (15-4) has reached the regional semifinals for the third year in a row and is hoping this might be the year it advances further. Alcona lost to McBain in the regional final two seasons ago and to Clare in the regional semifinal last year.

Postseason basketball usually means a lot of close games and Alcona has been no stranger to those this year in the playoffs. Alcona held off a late rally from Oscoda on Wednesday and then needed two overtimes to vanquish Tawas on Friday for the district crown.

The winner of tonight’s game will play either Shelby or Leroy-Pine River on Wednesday.

Hillman (16-5) has won its last eight games in a row and is playing in its first regional since 2009. The Tigers have never won a regional title, but they’re a young, determined team and coach Eric Muszynski has talked his team about the pressures that come with playing games in March.

“We talked about today, there are 32 teams left, this is a bigger stage and the intensity being at a whole different level,” Muszynski said.

Hillman topped Posen on Friday for its seventh district title in school history and will look to establish its style of play early in the contest. Muszynski is aware of the Hornets use of multiple zone defenses, but the Tigers have several players that are able to step up and come through offensively in tight situations. Mason VanPamel scored 24 points against Posen, but Mike Klein added 19 points and Ty Jones has also had several big games this season.

The Hornets are only 5-17 this season, but Jake Friedenstab has the ability to score more than 20 points a game and Muszynski knows that playoff basketball brings a higher intensity.

“We’re not getting caught up in Pellston’s record. You don’t win a district by being a bad team,” Muszynski said.

The winner faces either Cedarville or St. Ignace on Wednesday.

The Thunderbolts (20-1) ended a five-year district title drought with a commanding win over Au Gres on Friday on their home floor. By contrast, the Aggies made an incredible run to a district title, knocking off No. 9 Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart in the semifinals by three and edging McBain Northern Michigan Christian 63-62 to win a district title.

The winner faces either Carsonville-Port Sanilac or Saginaw Buena Vista on Wednesday.